cover image Just Call Me Stupid

Just Call Me Stupid

Tom Birdseye. Holiday House, $16.95 (181pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1045-3

Patrick, a fifth-grader living in Arizona with his divorced mother, can barely read. Scant progress is made during sessions with the school's impatient and inept reading teacher, and taunts from the class bully further undermine Patrick's self-esteem. Memories of studying with his now unheard-from father, a quick-tempered alcoholic, are another stumbling block: the man would call his son stupid and once locked him in a closet as punishment. Then the arrival of Celina, a bright, friendly new neighbor and classmate, instills some much-needed confidence in the beleaguered fellow, as do the efforts of his good-hearted teacher, Mrs. Romero, and the boy's belief in his mother's unwavering love. Birdseye ( I'm Going to Be Famous ) has composed a dramatic, insightful novel portraying a child's reading problems. While the book's vocabulary surpasses that of students with Patrick's difficulties, the value of a support system providing care and understanding is clearly expressed. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)